6 October 2022 Martin Cheetham

The definition of experience as a verb: to have experience of; meet with; undergo; feel.

That word ‘feel’ is vitally important. It’s beyond product and service. It’s how you feel before, during, and after you engage with a product.

Companies used to get away with great products and poor service, or vice versa. But not anymore.

Society is saturated with products and services for every facet of our lives. And our eyeballs and ears are flooded with marketing attempts to get us to try them. We are overloaded and often block them out entirely.

It’s gotten to the point where brands need to grab your attention within 5 seconds. But honestly when is the last time actually paid attention to that ad on the article you were reading on your phone or while waiting for a YouTube video to start?

“But Martin, you purveyor of wisdom and pinnacle of knowledge”, I hear you ask, “why is this relevant?” Well, dear reader, it’s relevant because we are drowning in claims about how great a product or service is, but it’s ultimately our experience with it that will decide whether we incorporate it into our lives or not. And mostly it’s the referrals from others that have had a great experience that will nudge us to even trying it in the first place.

“You have to start with the customer experience and work backwards to the technology.”
– Steve Jobs


The big apple

I have been an Apple fanboy since I started studying design in college. Their products have always been close to my heart. Whether it has been a music player, a phone, iPad, desktop machine or laptop, my experience has been consistent. And it has been FANTASTIC. From opening the packaging, to the setup of the device all the way to my ongoing use of it months and even years later, my experience is the same. I love the attention to detail, the simplicity, and the thought that has gone into every facet.

I even remember a friend of mine wanting to buy a new laptop and doing research by asking a few people. He told me that when he asked about their experience with their current laptop, most would say it was ok. But every single person that had a Mac would tell him how much they absolutely loved it. So his decision became really easy.

The reason I’m rambling on about my love for Apple, is that it was my experience with the product that I loved. The service I would experience when visiting an iStore in South Africa, was a completely different story. I would be met by arrogance and made to feel like I was an idiot and they were doing me a favour by even speaking to me. I was a lowly peasant who was dirtying their pristine floors simply with my presence. Ok, slight exaggeration (just slight) but I’m trying to express the polarising experience I would have between their product and their service.

But it was the early two thousands, and you could get away with great products, and bad service. Because consumers would suffer through the one to experience the other.

Those times are gone. We are much more sophisticated consumers now. We have moved beyond product or service – we want a great experience. A holistic experience from start to end that is consistently good. We want to feel like we have made the right decision and that it’s adding value to our lives.

We use products every day to make our lives simpler, easier and more fun. So our experience with them should be the same.